Ocean observatory for Galway Bay

Major upgrade of national marine R&D infrastructure to drive Ireland’s ocean energy potential

A subsea cable laid from the RV Celtic Explorer in Galway Bay this week marks a major milestone in the development of Ireland’s national marine research and development infrastructure. The four kilometre cable, and a frame to which sensors and monitoring equipment will be attached is part of the development of an ocean observatory in Galway Bay connecting the Galway Bay Ocean Energy Test Site and to the shore at Spiddal, Co. Galway. The cable will supply power to the site and allow unlimited data transfer from the site for researchers testing innovative marine technology including renewable ocean energy devices.  

The Marine Institute and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) have been working together to promote and develop Ireland’s ocean energy potential and this project, with partners SmartBay Ltd, UCC (MarEI - Marine Renewable Energy Ireland), and Dublin City University, is part of a programme to enhance the Galway Bay Ocean Energy Test Site. A suite of sensors and environmental monitoring equipment will be installed on the cable end frame this summer, as well a floating ‘sea station’ which will give developers real time data on how their devices are performing in the ocean .

“Ireland’s sea area is around 10 times the size of our land area and with one of the best offshore renewable energy resources in the world, the opportunities to harness the power of the ocean are immense,” according to Simon Coveney T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. “The new facilities at the Galway Bay Ocean Energy Test site will attract companies and researchers developing marine technology and renewable ocean energy equipment, and will position Ireland at the forefront of these emerging sectors by developing an expert indigenous supply chain that will expand as these sectors grow. The ocean observatory will also enhance our ability to monitor the ocean and better understand how it works, which is critical to tackling issues such as climate change.”

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Alex White T.D. said “Offshore renewable energy has the potential to be a major component of Ireland’s future energy mix and it is vital that we facilitate developments like this one in Galway Bay. Over time, the introduction of ocean energy into Ireland’s renewables portfolio will enhance the security of Ireland’s energy supply, deliver green growth, and add to the 47,000 jobs already supported by our energy sector. Government support for ocean research, development and demonstration has been increasing with €16.8 million added to my Department’s multi-annual ocean energy development budget between 2013 and 2016, bringing the total cumulative funding to over €26 million.

Instrument nodes and sensor packages to be installed at the Galway Bay Ocean Energy Test Site this summer will contribute to marine sectors including, environmental monitoring, shipping, maritime security and education.  Extensive historical wave and weather data is also available for this site since 2008 and is available to potential device developers.

The new research infrastructure will position Galway Bay as a unique world-class ocean energy test site. The addition of a cabled ocean observatory means Ireland can play an important role in the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance between Europe, the USA and Canada under the Galway Statement signed at the Marine Institute Galway in May 2013.  The cable project is funded in part by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) under its Research Infrastructure Call 2012 which contributed €2.2m to the project. The Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine contributed an additional €600,000 to the project in 2014. The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources will fund additional infrastructure and the ongoing operations of the Galway Bay test site through the SEAI Ocean Energy Programme.

More information on the project will be available at www.marine.ie and www.oceanenergyireland.com .

ENDS 

For more information please contact Lisa Fitzpatrick, Communications Manager, Marine Institute 087 2250871 or email lisa.fitzpatrick@marine.ie or cushla.dromgoolregan@marine.ie

Photos available from Andrew Downes andrew@andrewdownes.net

Notes to editors

The project is a collaboration between the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, the Marine Institute, University College Cork (Marine Renewable Energy Ireland - MaREI) and SmartBay Ireland.

About the project partners

Marine Institute

The Marine Institute is the State agency responsible for marine research, technology development and innovation in Ireland, and was set up under the Marine Institute Act 1991:

“to undertake, to coordinate, to promote and to assist in marine research and development and to provide such services related to research and development, that in the opinion of the Institute, will promote economic development  and create employment and protect the marine environment.”

The Marine Institute provides scientific and technical advice to Government to help inform policy and to support the sustainable development of Ireland’s marine resource. In association with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, the Marine Institute are responsible for a range of technical and developmental activities associated with Ireland’s national marine renewable energy test site infrastructure.

Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) is Ireland's national energy agency, with a mission to play a leading role in transforming Ireland into a society based on sustainable energy structures, technologies and practices.

Since 2009 SEAI has been actively involved in developing appropriate structures in which the offshore renewable energy sector can develop and thrive. In particular SEAI has concentrated efforts in supporting appropriate policy development, as well as developing test site structures and grant support. The SEAI Ocean Programme budget for 2015 is €4.5M and the Government committed €26M to the development of Ocean Energy under the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan 2014 published by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

SmartBay Ireland

SmartBay Ireland supports the Marine Institute and Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland in the management of the national Ocean Energy Test Site in Galway Bay. SmartBay provides a range of marine and data support services to users of the site. This includes the trial and validation of novel marine sensors, prototype equipment, and the collection and dissemination of marine data to national and international users of the facility

SmartBay Ireland is a not-for-profit company which receives funding from the Higher Education Authority (HEA) with Dublin City University (DCU) acting as the lead research organisation.

Marine Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI Centre), UCC

The Marine Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI) Centre is funded by Science Foundation Ireland and by a variety of industrial, National, EU and international agencies.  MaREI is hosted by UCC, but also involves researchers at UL, NUIG, NUIM, UCD and CIT.  The vision of MaREI is “to secure Ireland’s position as a global leader in Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) by focussing on technological breakthroughs delivered through cutting edge science and engineering research”.  MaREI has signed research contracts with 45 Irish and international companies in the ocean energy sector and is the largest industrially-focussed research centre worldwide in this sector. The MaREI Centre will be hosted in the new Beaufort Building in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork, which will open in the summer of 2015 and represents an investment of over €15.0 million of State and private investment, housing the National Ocean Test Facility and over 110 researchers and staff in maritime, energy and renewables. MaREI has produced a test and evaluation protocol standard that has been adopted worldwide as the gold standard to which all wave energy devices are tested.

Science Foundation Ireland

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is the national foundation for investment in scientific and engineering research.  SFI invests in academic researchers and research teams who are most likely to generate new knowledge, leading edge technologies and competitive enterprises in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

SFI also promote and support the study of, education in, and engagement with STEM and promotes an awareness and understanding of the value of STEM to society and, in particular, to the growth of the economy.

SFI also advances co-operative efforts among education, government, and industry that support its fields of emphasis and promotes Ireland’s ensuing achievements around the world.

 
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